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Movie Review

Wonder Woman


Starring: Gal Gadot, Chris Pine, Robin Wright, Danny Huston, David Thewlis, Connie Nielsen and Elena Anaya
Director: Patty Jenkins
Warner Bros. Pictures
Certificate: 12A
Running time: 141 mins
Opens 01 June 2017

I always preferred DC comics to Marvel ones, probably because the first non-2000AD comic I ever read was The Dark Knight Returns and it’s coloured my view ever since. Although I always enjoy the Marvel movies they feel a bit more of a cartoon romp and merchandising vehicle than the darker, more adult, DC output (and don’t get me started on the toe-curling cameos from ego-in-chief Stan Lee). So yeah I like DC movies, yes I like Man of Steel and I like Batman vs Superman. If you’ve decided already I don’t know shit you’re gonna love it now I start talking about feminism...

Review imageIt’s no secret that WW has resonated with women worldwide, the box office and press have made that clear but why?

I could reel off a list of badass femmes without a struggle but I have no shame in admitting there were moments during this movie I was surprised to find myself choking back tears of emotion.

On the most basic level it’s great to have an action film that doesn’t assume that women would never watch it, or that they’ll only watch it if there’s a love story. Even just writing that sentence makes it sound stupid but it’s a fact. Studios thought that there would be no female audience for comic book movies and that male cinema goers wouldn’t want to see a film with a female lead... so Wonder Woman waited on Themyscira whilst Batman after Batman danced with devil in the pale moonlight.

Not only is Wonder Woman a solid action film it’s a portrayal of a strong, powerful woman not filtered through the boner lens of the male gaze and frankly it’s been a long time coming.

Review imageUnlike the commonly accepted action-femme trope Diana does not have a traumatic or abusive childhood which turns her into this peerless warrior. Try and think of a kick ass female lead who hasn’t had some Bad Shit go down (often at the hands of a Bad Man) which then forms the basis of her character.  Thus a woman can only be an action heroine with this justification for overcoming her *natural* gentle, passive, nurturing nature YAWN.

Women are either portrayed as constantly struggling with their aptitude for violence or emotionally absent killing machines. Not so with Diana. She is loved, massively so, the Amazon’s are warriors who literally live in Paradise. She is happy and healthy. Diana wants to fight because it’s what she was born to do, it’s her destiny and it’s for the good of the whole world not personal vengeance or survival.

Gal Gadot is insanely beautiful of course, as are all the Amazons. She’s also charm personified bringing passion and resolve to the role of Diana. She convinces utterly and I for one could watch her for weeks. (Newsflash: Women have no problem with beautiful actresses!).

Review imageWhenever Diana’s beauty is commented on by a mortal it washes over her as irrelevant, even bemusing. Because her appearance does not define her. The Amazons value age and experience as much if not more. Their most powerful warrior is no ingénue Venus but Antiope played by the fifty-one year old Robin Wright.  Antiope is the standout character of the film’s opening segment and the champion in the battle-on-the beach when the grimy real world rudely crashes into paradise; an invasion inadvertently brought about by Chris Pine’s Steve Trevor.

The portrayal of Trevor is another reason for a feminist high-five. Right from the get-go he accepts Diana is both a powerful warrior and an ally. Without ever compromising his own masculinity he at no point sees her as anything less than equal.  Of course there are a few inevitable, and period accurate, moments of “I must protect thee for you art a woman” early on but once the exceptional No Man’s Land scene gets underway, and he realizes Diana’s true power Trevor instantly accepts her as the superior warrior. He then encourages her stand on him to reach higher (“SHEILD!”) and as a result everyone benefits.

(But then Trevor does make sure to tell Diana a few times how he’s not an “average guy”, a cute nod to the not-all-men phenomenon with which every woman is now all too familiar).

Review imageAnother thing that resonates is how Diana keeps being told: “this is the way things are”, “we have to do it this way”, “no you can’t, because... reasons”. When she’s expected to keep her passion and emotions in check in order to get what she wants in this man’s world.  Again showing why the No Man’s Land scene is so pivotal. She’s tried to play the game but y’know what….? She’s the expert here, she does know better actually, she CAN stop this and she will.

The scene is also a deft way to portray the idea of fighting for Right and Justice rather than just beating up a supervillain, it’s telling that the German soldiers remain effectively faceless throughout, until the very end of the film when they lay down arms and the good guys and the bad guys become indistinguishable.

Trevor also never tries to gaslight Diana regarding her conviction that the god Ares is real, behind the War-To-End-All-Wars and the only person she has to kill to save the world. It’s clear to us he thinks it’s nonsense, hell WE think it’s nonsense but he never explicitly says so. When Diana kills the man she believes is Ares and nothing changes Trevor doesn’t go “TOLD YOU SO IDIOT” he tries to help her see an alternative view without belittling her own.

Review imageOf course it turns out Diana was right all along and the climax is an actual goddess facing down a middle aged portly white dude mansplaining to her what the world means, what she should be angry about and what’s she should be doing instead.

She throws a tank at him.

(Oh he also makes up some metal armor he doesn’t need out of trucks n stuff to try and make himself feel moar powerful. I can imagine costume designer Lindy Hemming trying to figure out a way to sneak a fedora in there somehow).

Patty Jenkins and co have crafted an allegory for modern womanhood disguised as an action flick and even the usual anti-feminist suspects are (mainly) keeping schtum because they can’t even see it.

Review imageYou might think I’m reading waaaaaaaay too much into this, no biggie, go see it anyway because it’s SMASHING.  You can still enjoy a top notch comic book flick with stellar action scenes, which boasts a good mix of hockum and gravity and some cracking moustache twirling from David Thewlis, Elena Anaya and the ever watchable Danny Huston.

Just let us have it though okay, don’t be that guy chelping at the Alamo Picture House for holding two women-only screenings out of hundreds or be snarky if some new fan doesn’t know who Amoeba Man is, because trust me we’ve been waiting a hella long time for this film. It is a game changer, it’s important, she’s a Wonder.


Lizzie Biscuits

Screen shot

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